Going to therapy is not an easy task for most people. It takes bravery. It takes courage. It takes effort. Honestly, therapy is a lot of work, and the client/patient/student needs to take the lead.
Of course, there are other factors that come into play when it comes to therapy being (un)successful.
Therapy is where the client works on himself/herself. The therapist is there to guide that process and help you make changes that you may need to make to your life or your behaviors, but ultimately, what happens in therapy is up to you.
- Therapeutic Relationship: Do you like your therapist? Is your communication with your therapist open and honest? Do you feel comfortable sharing?
- Approach or Method: Did you and your therapist choose the right evidence-based practice of therapy?
- Treatment Plan or Goal Setting: Did you and your therapist actively collaborate on the goal(s) of treatment/therapy?
- The list goes on and on!
Let’s say you’re going to therapy. You’ve only met with your therapist five times. You don’t love your therapist, but you don’t dislike him either. Therapy makes you uncomfortable, but your friends encouraged you to go because you are struggling at school/work, you feel tired all the time, and you are carrying around trauma from your childhood that’s giving you flashbacks, making it hard for you to connect with new people. You dragged yourself out of bed today, attempting to make it to another therapy session that you wish you didn’t have to go to. You decide to go, because you promised your friend that you would go to at least ten sessions.
For the past few sessions, you talked about your school/work situation and the stress you have been experiencing, but today, your therapist hits you with the big question, “What happened when you were a kid?” You clam up. You even get angry. How could he ask me that? How do I answer that? It’s not right – he can’t just ask me that.
You spit out the words, “That’s not your business.”
Therapy will be invasive sometimes. Well…a lot of the time. You may feel like your therapist is just trying to pry into your mind and get into your business. I am here to remind you that you have the power to own your therapy session.
Here are 3 tips to OWNING your therapy session, even when you feel like it’s too invasive.
- Ask your therapist why they need to know, and be open to his response. Usually, in therapy, the therapist is asking you questions. It’s important that you ask questions and get some clarity, too. If you know why your therapist is asking you certain questions, that might help you be more open in your treatment, if you want to be.
- Tell your therapist if something he is doing is bothering you. Be kind about it, if possible. 🙂 If your therapist does not know what he’s doing wrong, he cannot fix it. If your therapist does not know what he can do to make therapy more beneficial and productive, he will hit a roadblock in helping you. Sharing how you feel will make progress in your treatment. Some people find this hard to do, because they do not want to come off as rude and ungrateful, or because they feel like there is no point in trying to make therapy better, when they feel therapy won’t “work” regardless. Therapy can bring positive change; it just takes two to tango, two to communicate, two to make a difference.
- Reflect on how you can use therapy to achieve your goals. Make sure the therapy is centered on YOUR goals, not what your therapist may want to achieve for you. As a to-be therapist myself, I have noticed that sometimes I have goals that are different from my clients, simply because I care for my clients and I want them to achieve greatness. Your therapist and you need to be on the same page in terms of your goals and what you are going to do to get there.
A lot of therapy is up to you, the client. It’s up to you to make a change. It’s up to you to own your therapy. It’s up to you to own today.